Sean and I got to see Inside Out again this past weekend (it was playing at the drive-in and yup, just as good the second time around). Pixar’s latest offers us a sweet and clever insight into the emotions ruling 11-year-old Riley’s brain – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear, and Disgust. These emotions are personified by colourful characters and truly wonderful voice talent (Amy Pohler, Phyllis Smith, Lewis Black, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling). It was a real treat to see these emotions come to life, but between the laughter and tears, I also had some follow-up questions:
1. Why is Joy Caucasian?
Anger is a squat red guy, with matching red eyes and fire shooting out of his head. Disgust is green, naturally, with green hair and eyes. Sadness: blue, of course, with blue hair and eyes. Fear is purple, with – guess what! – purple hair and eyes. But for some reason Joy is a race, not a colour. Think she’s yellow? Look again. She’s a glowing peachy colour, and her eyes are big and blue and she’s got a cute little pixie cut. Joy is a white girl. This makes me vaguely uncomfortable.
2. Why is Sadness fat?
They made Sadness into a chubster in a turtleneck. They may as well have given her cats too, just to give her the complete Depressed Lady makeover. Her glasses cover almost her entire face and though we never see the emotions eating, we can imagine that she must eat the heck out of hers. Mint chocolate chip? No. Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough.
3. What gender are YOUR emotions?
Riley’s emotions are mixed-gender. Anxiety is a dude, Disgust is a dudette. But her father’s emotions are all mustachioed men while her mother’s are all bespectacled ladies. Now, why might this be? Sean thought it might just be for simplicity’s sake. Her mother’s brain is instantly identifiable since all her emotions have the same drab haircut. Her father’s brain is even worse shape: it’s being run by a bunch of hockey-obsessed jerks (or soccer-obsessed, for international audiences). This felt uncomfortably stereotypical but got a big laugh from the jam-packed theatre because – haha – men never listen!
4. Why is Joy lone-wolfing it?
As a counsellor, I often find myself telling people that no emotion is necessarily good or bad because all might be helpful or have purpose. Certainly this movie does a good job of justifying Sadness, but I still feel like the balance is a little off-kilter. Sadness, Anger, Fear, Disgust: all could be said to be on one side of the positive-negative spectrum of emotions, while Joy is lonely on the other. It may be true that Amy Pohler is worth at least 3 Bill Haders but I still felt a little sad that she was representing positivity and light all by her lonesome. And when Joy went missing, everything went to hell, so it would seem that a little Hope or Excitement might have been a good pack up plan (though admittedly I understand why 5 characters were a manageable number from an engaging, story-telling point of view). Still, there are many emotions left out – which would you have liked to see?
5. What is your primary emotion?
It is clear from birth that Joy is running the show. She leads the other emotions and guides Riley’s experience, always striving for the perfect, happy day. Not so for Riley’s parents. Anger seems to helm the control console in her father’s brain. He does not seem to be an outwardly angry person, but maybe we’re once again short-hand stereotyping anger as somehow masculine. Worse still, Riley’s mom’s primary emotion appears to be Sadness. She doesn’t seem depressed to us, but it made me feel blue to think of her every move being tinged by a pall of unhappiness. Who do you think is the captain of your ship? I think I might have Joy and Anger as co-pilots; I’m at my best when I’m in full-on snarky bitch mode.
Anyway, today my primary emotion is Anticipation! Just like Riley and her family, we’re about to embark on a San Francisco adventure (well, it’s our first stop, anyway) and I can’t wait to land there and be filled with Joy and Excitement and Wonder and Dread of Eventually Going Back to Work, which is too a legit emotion as I have it ALL THE TIME. While the Assholes are in California we’ll be posting about our favourite movies as they relate to our sight-seeing adventures, so please keep checking in to see what we’re up to next – and if you’re feeling brave, follow us on Twitter ( @assholemovies ) to see things like Jay’s contemptuous travel face, Sean’s hungry frown, an orange blur that might be the Golden Gate Bridge, 13 pictures of Jack Nicholson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame obscured by half of Jay’s fat finger, Matt riding a train off into the sunset like he’s in some kind of goddamned movie. It’ll be good times, I promise!